The NZ Transport Agency has confirmed plans to return the historic Birdcage Tavern to near its original site when the Victoria Park Tunnel project is completed in 2012.
The tavern, which is one of Auckland’s oldest buildings, sits directly above the planned tunnel’s southern portal and was originally to have been moved permanently to a new site 40 metres away.
NZTA Auckland State Highways Manager Tommy Parker said the agency had now devised a means of safely returning the historic building to near its current location.
The tavern will be shifted to a temporary home 40 metres up the road from its present site later this year, then moved back when the tunnel project is complete in 2012. To keep the historic brick building secure for its double move, it will first be reinforced and placed on runway beams just below ground level. Hydraulic arms will then push it gently and very slowly along the beams up the road, and eventually back again to almost its identical position.
“We think this is a solution that is not only the best option for an important part of Auckland’s past, but one that will also enable the tavern to remain a vital part of the community in the future,” Mr Parker said.
Mr Parker said that the Birdcage cannot be relocated back exactly in its current position because of the location of the new tunnel portal. Instead it will be moved slightly further forward from its present position and rotated so that its façade sits better with junction of Franklin Road and Victoria Street West, creating more open space for people in front of the tavern.
“Working out an engineering solution to move the Birdcage slightly forward and rotating it from its original position represents a good result for the community and for preserving the building,” Mr Parker said.
The tunnel’s southern portal will be mostly concealed behind the tavern.
Mr Parker said the NZTA and its partners in the Victoria Park Tunnel Alliance face a number of challenges in planning for the move. These include:
Mr Parker said the future home of the Birdcage had been the subject of robust discussion and consultation with the community and key stakeholders, including the Auckland City Council. The NZTA had considered leaving the tavern in the temporary site, or shifting it elsewhere in Victoria Park.
“We’re delighted that we can make significant improvements to Auckland’s motorway network with the Victoria Park Tunnel and also preserve an important heritage building and ensure it remains a focal point for the community,” said Mr Parker.